Rent for Palazzo Vilhena restaurant cost less than lease of a Rabat snack bar

Noel Zammit, CEO of Heritage Malta and the chairman of its commercial arm Heritage Malta Services Ltd, is refusing to explain how one of Malta’s most prominent museums located at the entrance to Mdina – Palazzo Vilhena – has been rented out as a restaurant for just €50 a day.

Catering professionals and owners of five-star restaurants described the rental price set by the government’s heritage agency and dished out to the owners of Rabat’s Grotto Tavern restaurant through a direct order as “ridiculous”.

One said it was “much lower than a mid-range rent paid per day for a snack bar”.

The use of the courtyard at Palazzo Vilhena by the owner of the Grotto Tavern in Rabat – through a direct order – was first revealed by The Shift two weeks ago. Palazzo Vilhena hosts Malta’s Natural History Museum.

Research conducted by The Shift, through various online property websites promoting the rental of restaurants and snack bars in Rabat, the closest town to Mdina, shows that a much smaller establishment than the one given out by Heritage Malta is being advertised at an asking price of €3,500 a month.

Yet Heritage Malta gave the space to the owner of the Grotto Tavern for just €1,400 every four weeks in which he organised a “unique gastronomic experience” for a menu of €120 per person.

Yet Jonathan Pace, the owner of Collision Catering Ltd, which operates the Grotto Tavern restaurant, was paying only €50 per day (or 8% of total sales) to host the “gastronomic experience” – it’s the setting of the courtyard in a Baroque palace in Mdina that is unique.

A clause in the same contract left it up to the lessee to choose which of the two rental fee options to pay.

Heritage Malta’s CEO did not answer questions asking for an explanation about why it was left up to the restaurant owner to decide, which is unusual in such deals with the government that normally seeks the most advantageous option.

The Shift also asked Zammit to provide data on how many patrons visited the Palazzo Vilhena restaurant during the four weeks – the collection of the data, including sales turnover, was a requirement in the contract.

He was also asked who at Heritage Malta had decided on the price offered to Pace. Yet no replies were given.

Shortly after The Shift revealed the deal,  Heritage Malta officials gave immediate directions for the restaurant to close and publicly stated that this was some “experiment” to find out whether it made commercial sense for one of Malta’s most elegant Palaces in Mdina to be used commercially.

Minister Owen Bonnici, politically responsible for the entity, eventually revealed the contract, saying Heritage Malta’s decision was intended as market research despite complaints by competitors that they were never given a chance to contest.

The PN criticised the deal, saying Heritage Malta “is using our national heritage for commercial purposes that go beyond its obligations to promote and preserve this same heritage.”

                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
1 month ago

Typical Owen Bonneci!
He likes to be seen as a “nodding” minister.
Thinking about the future of our children seems to be very very difficult for him.

Why is it that Malta disgusts so many young people?
It can’t be because of the beauty of our island!

Keep it up PL, keep it up ROBBER Abela.
Try to think!

Tania
Tania
1 month ago

Not only was it a so-called gastronomic experience but also a big standard cafeteria on other days, selling drinks and ice creams and competing with other kiosks in the vicinity

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

Why should we be surprised at the low rent? The difference or part thereof is complimentary dinners to the various dignitaries 😉 that are entitled to attend!!!

ToniPortelli
ToniPortelli
1 month ago

F’Gieh is sewwa. Isthu

Lino Farrugia
Lino Farrugia
1 month ago

What a disgraceful bunch of thieves is abusing our country. Zammit should consider taking over the management of the Louvre museum!!

alfred zammit
alfred zammit
1 month ago

but why do we have to put up with all this corruption?everyday,every town,village,bay is involved in corruption.

carlos
1 month ago
Reply to  alfred zammit

you’re asking why? it’s either because everybody is corrupt or else that everybody is bloodless otherwise this corrupt government won’t last another minute. MAFIAMALTA

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